Family business: leveraging the tradition of innovation and sustainability @ World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014


Monte Carlo, 5 June 2014

Family businesses capitalize on their vision and values

Building a family business that can last for the long term takes more than dedication and hard work: innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit are also must-haves. So too is planning for the next generation. Ross Perot Jr., Chairman of The Perot Companies (2nd generation) and Hillwood, US, Florian Langenscheidt, Founder and Chairman of Children for a Better World and Partner of the Langenscheidt Group (5th generation) and Tony Haddad, Founder and General Manager of Technica International (1st and 2nd generation), share their experiences and insights on how their businesses maintain a competitive edge in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.

Cutting-edge innovation has been the key to the success of his family business over many decades, commented Ross Perot Jr. By forming smaller companies around the core business, a greater number of people are able to have the authority and freedom to manage their own creativity, he said, which has helped to develop an innovative culture.

Long-term vision can also help create a competitive advantage. As Dr. Florian Langenscheidt explained, family businesses tend to focus on the future, rather than on the latest quarterly results. Furthermore, he went on, family businesses always consider their employees as part of the family and thus in times of economic crises, they are less likely to resort to layoffs, instead they find new ways to maintain the business. This in turn results in a loyal, more stable workforce.

All agreed that each generation gets the opportunity to redefine the family business, helping to keep it dynamic and innovative. But planning for the next generation of family leaders can be a major challenge. Dr. Florian Langenscheidt was cautious about forcing the next generation to succeed and stated the importance of allowing them to gain their own perspective.

Innovation starts with the business leaders, so said Tony Haddad. This then cascades down to all levels within the business. If innovation isn’t enabled in this way, he stressed, a business will not survive. Embedding the founder’s values in the business was, others agreed, a strong driver for the growth of the company.

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